Before the “Mayflower”

Yet another year is about to end and here I am with unanswered messages of good cheer, thoughtful gifts unacknowledged. I am glued to this book (a Christmas gift from a dear friend) by Nancy Isenberg, titled White Trash, The 400-year Untold History of Class in America(2016). I strongly recommend this scholarly work to those … Read more

Rizal wrote to 20 women

Most of you already know that in 1888, Marcelo del Pilar asked Jose Rizal to write an encouraging letter to 20 of his lady townmates who wanted to open an evening school, in a private home, where they could learn proper Spanish and other subjects. They had already hired a professor, Señor Teodoro Sandico who … Read more

Who were the 20 Women of Malolos?

They wanted to open their own night school and hire a professor to teach them Spanish. To the  Agustinian parish priest it was an act of defiance; to Marcelo del Pilar, Graceano Lopez Jaena and Jose Rizal, Filipino women were throwing off colonial shackles. Rizal was overjoyed that there were women like them in the … Read more

Spain thought of leaving us

Early on, towards the end of the 16th century, Spanish ministers had nagging doubts about keeping the archipelago named after King Felipe II. Although the Capitanía-General de Filipinas was in the vicinity of Maluco, Ternate, Tidore, Ambon– the fabled spice islands–only cinnamon was available here, not cloves nor black pepper which demanded very high prices … Read more

Our Lady of the Abandoned, endangered

In case you have not heard of Our Lady of the Abandoned ( Nuestra Señora de los Desamparados), she is the patroness of Santa Ana,  the 6th district of  Manila.  Santa Ana used to be called Sapa,  the capital of the Namayan kingdom that included Quiapo, San Pedro Macati, San Juan and San Francisco del … Read more

Is there gold in Cavite?

Last week, we were intrigued by reports about a 30-meter deep and 300-meter-wide tunnel, with a 1.72-meter-high cave, totally man-made, “discovered” in the New Bilibid Prison Reservation in Muntinlupa City. Was someone looking for gold? Towards the end of the year, when we are about to commemorate WWII, raiders of the Yamashita treasure come out … Read more

Sins and miracles in Spanish times

Fr. Pedro  Chirino, S. J ( 1557-1635) arrived with Governor -General  Gomez Perez Dasmarinas in 1590.  He wrote “Relación de las Islas Filipinas (1604)”, which is valuable because it captured a historical moment, those early “points of contact”  between natives and Spaniards.  Fascinated with the baybayin, Padre Chirino included an illustration in his book and … Read more

After the deluge, reforestation

That was Pres. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr.’s enlightened declaration– “We need reforestation…plant good trees.” – after the Biblical deluge and killer landslides in Maguindanao del Norte. During a conference with local government officials of Datu Odin Sinsuat he demanded to know why people were not warned on time, nor evacuated to safer ground. Flood waters rose … Read more

Plight of Filipino farmers

The spokesman of Filipino farmers, Ka Rene Cerilla of PAKISAMA, lamented that farmers are never consulted, much less invited to significant policy-making meetings. He was one of the panelist-reactors at the “ 21st Jaime V. Ongpin memorial lecture on Public Service in Business and  Government”  held last October at the Ateneo de Manila University Law … Read more